Moonlight,’ ‘Blood Stripe’ and ‘Iron Will’ lead 2016 awards contenders…many finalists are set to screen during TCFF’s closing weekend!

The Twin Cities Film Fest announced more than two dozen finalists for its top six awards Tuesday afternoon. Leading the slate is the critically-lauded coming-of-age drama “Moonlight,” a TCFF finalist for both Best Feature Film and the festival’s “Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance” award (for Barry Jenkins’ screenplay). “Moonlight” is the official TCFF Closing Night Film.

Matching “Moonlight” with two top feature nominations apiece are “Blood Stripe,” the Minnesota-filmed drama about a military veteran struggling to reenter society after her tour of duty; “First Girl I Loved,” a relationship drama set in the gossipy hallways of high school; and “IRON WILL: Veterans’ Battle with PTSD,” the Billy Bob Thornton-narrated documentary about military service and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

This year’s TCFF program, which continues to screen in St. Louis Park through Saturday, is comprised of more than 100 short and feature films. In addition to the staff and audience awards, the 2016 event is also bestowing two North Star Awards to visiting actors Tim Guinee (in town to celebrate the 10th anniversary of “Sweet Land”) and Dominic Rains (starring in three TCFF films now touring the festival circuit — the James Franco-Melissa Leo mystery “Burn Country” screening Saturday night, the neo-noir thriller “The Loner” screening Friday, and the dark comedy “Funeral Day” showing Saturday morning).

The festival previously celebrated Minnesota native Lea Thompson (“Back to the Future,” “Caroline in the City”) with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Thompson attended the annual TCFF Gala in September.

See the full list of 32 TCFF finalists below; the winners of these awards, in addition to three audience awards, will be announced at the TCFF Closing Night Party Saturday. Limited festival and party tickets remain available.


Best Feature Film: “Blood Stripe,” directed by Remy Auberjonois; “Burn Country,” directed by Ian Olds; “First Girl I Loved,” directed by Kerem Sanga; “Lion,” directed by Garth Davis; “Moonlight,” directed by Barry Jenkins.

Best Documentary: “Denial,” directed by Derek Hallquist; “The Eagle Huntress,” directed by Otto Bell; “Free CeCe!” directed by Jacqueline Gares; “I Do?” directed by Joe Brandmeier; “IRON WILL: Veteran’s Battle with PTSD,” directed by Sergio Valenzuela.

Best Short Film: “Duffy’s Jacket,” directed by Brian Hoesing; “I Want You Inside Me,” directed by Alice Shindelar; “Lend a Hand For Love,” directed by John and Amy Thompson; “The Story,” directed by Cameron Digwall and Carolyn Pender; “Twinsburg,” directed by Joe Garrity.

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Feature Film: “Claire in Motion,” directed by Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson; “The Eyes of My Mother,” directed by Nicolas Pesce; “Girl Flu,” directed by Dorie Barton; “June Falling Down,” directed by Rebecca Weaver; “No Light and No Land Anywhere,” directed by Amber Sealey.

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Non-Fiction Film: “In Pursuit of Silence,” directed by Patrick Shen; “IRON WILL: Veteran’s Battle with PTSD,” directed by Sergio Valenzuela; “Prison Dogs,” directed by Geeta Gandbhir and Perri Peltz; “Tarkovsky: Time Within Time,” directed by PJ Letofsky; “They Call Us Monters,” directed by Ben Lear.

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance: “Blood Stripe,” Breakthrough: Actress Kate Nowlin; “Donald Cried,” Breakthrough: Actor Kris Avedisian; “First Girl I Loved,” Breakthrough: Director Kerem Sanga; “Hunky Dory,” Breakthrough: Actor Tomas Pais; “The Other Kids,” Breakthrough: Director Chris Brown; “Lend a Hand For Love,” Breakthrough: Directors John and Amy Thompson; “Moonlight,” Breakthrough: Writer Barry Jenkins.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Lea Thompson

Tickets for closing weekend films, and year-round TCFF memberships, are now on sale at  Those looking to attend the Closing Night Party can pay admission at the door.